By Dave Toplikar, Las Vegas Sun and U.S. News Agency / Asian
The mother of a 16-month-old girl whose 2010 death was attributed to head injuries testified Thursday that she misled hospital officials and police at first about her boyfriend’s involvement because he told her he was worried about going to jail in a different child abuse case involving his own son.
“I cared about this person, ” Jaime Higgons testified during the second day of the trial for Cody Geddings, 26, who has been charged with murder and child abuse with substantial bodily harm in the death of Higgons’ daughter, Addison Weast.
“I didn’t think he was going to hurt her,” said Higgons, who was 19 at the time.
Higgons testified that Geddings was babysitting for her daughter when Addison was injured on March 31, 2010. The toddler died on April 2, 2010, at University Medical Center.
Although Geddings has given two different accounts of what happened, Thomas Bellomo, a UMC emergency pediatric surgeon who treated the girl, has testified this week that the injuries the baby suffered didn’t match up with either of Geddings’ stories.
Bellomo said the injuries he found on the baby included a blow to the head, brain swelling and retinal hemorrhaging, which he said were more consistent with a baby being shaken violently.
According to statements made by attorneys this week, Geddings first told Higgons that Addison fell out of a crib and hit her head on the floor.
But when later questioned by police who told him that couldn’t have caused such a massive head injury, Geddings gave them a second story.
Geddings says that a 145-pound tank used in oxy-acetylene welding had been perched in a wobbly chair in his backyard. Geddings told them he had taken Addison into the backyard with him, and as the baby toddled around she accidentally moved the chair and the heavy tank fell on her.
During her testimony today, Higgons said Geddings never told her about the heavy tank falling on her daughter, but she learned about it later through an officer investigating the case.
Higgons testified that she asked Geddings to take care of her daughter that morning while she was at cosmetology school. She said Geddings had called her earlier in a happy mood because he had been served the divorce papers from his wife.
Higgons said he called her about 12:07 p.m. to tell her that Addison had just fallen out of her playpen and that she needed to “hurry and get home” to take care of her.
Higgons said she didn’t think it was serious at the time because the playpen was not very high. She said Geddings called her several times as she was driving home to find out where she was.
Higgons said when she arrived, Geddings was pacing back and forth. She saw her daughter lying on a bed and the girl’s eyes were rolled back and it looked like she was having a seizure. Higgons said she quickly changed her own shirt, took the girl out to her car and drove to St. Rose Dominican Hospitals’ Rose de Lima campus, which was close to Geddings’ home. Higgons said Geddings told her he couldn’t go with her to the hospital because of the other child abuse case that was pending.
To protect Geddings, Higgons told hospital authorities that she had been home when the girl was injured. After the girl was taken to UMC, police were called in and Higgons gave them the same story about the girl falling out of the playpen.
However, in her second interview with police, when they told her the baby couldn’t have suffered those injuries from a fall onto a carpeted floor, she finally told them that Geddings had been babysitting the girl.
When she talked to police the third time, she learned what Geddings had told them about the large tank falling on her daughter.
Chief Deputy District Attorney Michael Staudaher showed Higgons photos of the backyard and had her describe the kind of welding tank that Geddings normally used. She said the only place she had ever seen the tank Geddings said fell on her daughter was when it had been strapped to another tank on a two-wheeled dolly.
The photos police took after the incident showed the large oxygen tank strapped to the dolly. Higgons said she had never seen the large oxygen tank sitting on the chair, which swiveled and rocked. She said she had never seen Geddings use the larger tank in his welding work on cars.